Pope Francis said on Saturday rapid deforestation and reduction in biodiversity in individual countries should not be treated as local issues since they threaten the future of the whole planet.
Francis made his appeal on a visit to Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, which research institutes and aid agencies say has lost about 44% of its forest over the past 60 years, abetted by illegal exports of rosewood and ebony.
Francis zeroed in on endemic corruption, linking it with equally endemic poverty as well as with illegal poaching and exportation of natural resources.
In remarks to a gathering of Madagascar government leaders, Francis said some were profiting from excessive deforestation, adding: “The deterioration of that biodiversity compromises the future of the country and of the earth, our common home.”
Following recent huge fires in the Amazon region, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rejected international criticism about his policy to expand farmland, saying it was a domestic issue.
“The last forests are menaced by forest fires, poaching, the unrestricted cutting down of valuable woodlands. Plant and animal biodiversity is endangered by contraband and illegal exportation,” Pope Francis said.
Jobs must be created to wean those engaged in work that is harmful to the environment, so that they will not see it as their only means of survival, the pontiff said in his remarks to President Andry Rajoelina and his cabinet.
“There can be no true ecological approach or effective efforts to safeguard the environment without the attainment of a social justice capable of respecting the right to the common destination of the Earth’s goods, not only of present generations, but also of those yet to come.”